Disney’s shift toward streaming could have a dramatic effect on some of its highest-profile releases. Deadline sources understand the company is considering releasing live-action remakes Cruella, Peter Pan and Wendy and Pinocchio on Disney+ rather than in theaters. It’s not certain if Disney would make them free to subscribers or ask for an early access premium like it did with Mulan.
Other titles like Black Widow reportedly aren’t under consideration for streaming premieres.
The insiders stressed that there hadn’t been a “final decision,” and that Disney was still exploring options. If it did move these titles to Disney+ releases, though, it could represent a decisive moment for streaming movies. The company has been willing to send movies to streaming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Mulan as well as Pixar’s Onward and Soul, but this would represent confidence that Disney+ could offer successful launches for the movies no matter how safe it is to return to theaters in 2021.
The reported change comes just days after Warner Bros. committed to releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters, and possibly for some of the same reasons. While Warner’s move is more directly in response to the pandemic, Variety claimed it was also a financial sacrifice to promote HBO Max. In Disney’s case, streaming-only debuts could be worth the risk of financial losses if they spur online subscriptions.